Sunday, October 25, 2009

When Our Children are Our Teachers

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthian 13:1-8

God has been pounding this into me for a few months now and using my children to do it. As you know, he's been showing me His heart is toward His children, including myself. I believe that our children are not just brought to us to fill a desire to be a parent one day, or just so we can potentially raise more disciples, or to experience those sweet joys that children bring. Those are valid reasons, but not all of them. They are also brought to us so that we can hopefully come to grips at the magnitude of God's love for us personally.

One of my children has lately been my biggest parenting challenge as she is my most strong-willed and independent of the three. I think she really believes that her way is always the right way, and that her mommy has really lost her mind when it comes to asking things of her. When she knows she's in trouble, she runs away, and isn't really open to instruction or correction yet. It seems to just bounce right off of her. When she is being asked to do something, she always gives her opinion of what she wants to do instead or how she thinks she should do it. When it's my idea to ask for a hug or kiss, only half the time she responds to it well. And sadly, she's even said some things lately that indicate that she doesn't feel very loved all the time. It really is heartbreaking when it comes down to it. And I take full responsibility for the lack of love that she can receive or the false conceptions she has of my love for her. I am human and have obviously made many mistakes as a parent, and am already facing the consequences for it through having a child who doesn't completely trust my love toward her at the age of 4.

So here's the kicker....aren't we that same way as God's children though? Why do we disobey Him, run from Him, doubt His love for us, not want to spend daily time with him, etc.? Those things are a bi-product of us just simply not trusting His heart toward us...or receiving His love for us the way He is trying to give it out freely. Yet the difference between Him and me is, His love is perfect! It knows no bounds, it is always there waiting to scoop us up into the safety of His arms, to drive out fear, to drive out shame, to drive out the things that keep us bound within ourselves. It brings rest in our hearts, a safe place for us to go, boldness in our confessions and repentance, therefore it brings us freedom from ourselves...and directly into the Christ-filled life that He promises, and we can't help but pour it out into others because we are overflowing with it...but only if we receive all of Him into all of us. All!

My love for my children is actually very limited because I live in the flesh still. We as human flesh are pretty conditional lovers. But I actually had a glimpse recently of what happens when I was able to receive God's love fully, and it was amazing! I was able to pour out endless grace to my children, love them unconditionally, discipline with love, not a hint of anger came out, I put my own selfishness and hurts aside, and was able shower love to my kids from the depths of my heart. They were spotless in my eyes...and that is exactly how God sees us always. But when I'm allowing guilt, fear, shame and condemnation come upon myself, that is what comes out to others, mainly my husband and kids. I start doing things that make them feel the same way. So how do I stop it before it starts? Receive God's love for me fully.

So when it all comes down to it, what we are receiving from the Father, is ultimately gonna come out to those around us. What is coming out of you? God's love...or the opposite of!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Words to Chew On

These are some exerpts from some of Beth Moore's books/studies that are compiled in a little min-book of mine. Thought I'd put some out there that leaped out at me and I believe are worth chewing on.

--Please beware! A head full of biblical knowledge without a heart passionately in love with Christ is terribly dangerous, a stronghold waiting to happen. The head is full, but the heart and soul are unsatisfied. Satan knows that we all long for passion. If we are not given to godly passion, we will be tempted by counterfeits.

--A powerful motivation for believing God in our present is intentionally remembering how He's worked in our past.

--If in our pursuit of knowledge, God seems to have gotten smaller, we have been deceived.

--The key to answered prayer is sharing the mind of Christ over any given matter through His words actively abiding in us.

--Part of Satan's ploy is to make his victims "feel" addicted and powerless.

--Believers are only powerless in their own strength, yet God has promised to provide a way of escape for every temptation.

--God's Word is our Sword of the Spirit, but we have to learn to use it if we are to be a powerful force for the kingdom and against the darkness.

--People with a genuine heart for God cannot remain in a practice of sin. At some point they will cry out in total desperation for deliverance. For those who have walked closely with God, the desire for a return to His intimate favor finally exceeds the lure of the seducer.

"Lord, many or the woes of the wicked, but your unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in You." Ps. 32:10

"The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1

"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor" Isaiah 61:3

"The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Do We REALLY Want?

The past week has been an on and off week. There seems to be a little more of a battle going on within me than there has been in a month or so. Right now, there's a lot of just willing and choosing going on when my heart doesn't feel into keeping the fellowship with the Lord each day. I've found though that I shouldn't ignore my feelings though as they do help identify that there is something off and I need to go to the Father and ask Him to reveal that to me. He knows me more than I do in every moment I take a breath and there is nothing to hide or be afraid fact, quite the contrary. I should find rest in Him alone when nothing else gives me rest. He is my Refuge, my Comfort. Even when my heart isn't where it should be, He is there waiting to welcome me back with open arms.
I came out of an incredible time of prayer and worship Monday night with my prayer "sisters" that felt like it should have kept me filled for days. Yet, the next day, there was a sudden emptiness that didn't make a lot of sense. How could I be so filled then so empty so fast. I really haven't figured out where the "filling" went. I could throw it out there as the enemy, the flesh, anything that is NOT God trying to hinder the flow of the Spirit in me. And there is Truth in that. I've felt a sense of apathy about some things that have come out of nowhere too. But at the crux of all of this, I've been hearing this voice in my mind and heart asking me over and over, "What is it you want today Bethany?" It's a still small voice that I know is from the Lord. Because it really gives me pause about what my prayers have been to Him. "Lord, I pray for a financial miracle". "Lord, keep my marriage moving in the right direction". "Lord, give me the right heart toward my children". And they are good things to ask if they are asked with the right motive, which begs the question, "If these things are not answered when and how I want them answered, would I be content with the unbroken fellowship that the Father desires more than anything with me." If these things weren't falling in line with my prayers, yet my relationsip with my Father was growing in leaps and bounds, would He be enough to sustain my heart even in disappointment?
Mainly, it's the finances right now that come to mind when that question enters my mind. Because I feel He is answering the other prayers in leaps and bounds. My parenting approach is changing, not without some slip-ups of course, but all in all my heart is changing toward my children just as I have asked. And it's great! My marriage is better than it's ever been. My husband and I are both growing in the same direction with the Lord and it's exciting. But if he decides to hold back on the financial blessings that we are asking for, but in that holding back, we in the end stay closer to the Father because of it, can we stay content with that? And truthfully, at this point, I probably am not discontent enough when I feel a distance from Him. I do feel lost and know I need to spend that time with him, but it usually takes a point of desperacy finally to make me run back into His arms.
Now on the other hand, at this point, if I were to have to choose between a huge bonus check in the bank or unbroken fellowship with my Father, my heart wants to choose the latter. And that is not said because it's a church answer. And I used to not be able to say that in all honesty. I truly am starting to believe that God is enough. Now He may test me with other things in my life besides money that will ultimately make me doubt, be afraid, get mad, and have some fits I'm sure of it because we still live in the flesh that likes to rear it's ugly head. But I love that I am at this place where I know deep down in my heart that the sweet love, peace, rest and joy that comes from living in His presence is something money or earthy goods will never bring. So I am changing my prayers to "My soul finds rest in you alone, God. For my salvation comes from you". "As the deer pants for streams of water, my soul pants for you God." Will I still ask for a financial miracle, sure, because that is a faith prayer knowing He can do it and I don't think He wants us to stop asking for miracles? But if it comes in the place of what God is accomplishing in our relationship with Him, than no thanks! He can hold off if that is what it takes.
This is that surrender and reckless abandon that God wants us to get to so that we can finally know through experience, growth, and wisdom that He is our true, deep desire. He has always been our desire. It's just that a large percentage of the population just doesn't realize that. They are filling it with everything else they can find. And if He so chooses to bless us with earthly goods, wonderful, but we are to understand that He will give and He will take away, only so we can find Him again...and have unbroken fellowship with the Father once and for all.